AUBURN, Ala. (EETV) - Since 2009, husband and wife Blake and Micah Melnick have channeled their big heart for foster families into a nonprofit foundation called BigHouse which has impacted over 12,000 children across the state of Alabama.
Just after saying their “I do’s,” Blake and Micah experienced foster care in a more personal way when Micah’s parents began fostering children in Lee County. It was through this experience where they began to really see up close the often overlooked experiences of children in the system.
Through God’s faithful provision, donations from local churches and people within the community who come together to rally behind the cause, one decade has passed since their dream to meet the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of foster families first took form.
My first step into the BigHouse was greeted by the Bible verse, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” from Jeremiah 29:1.
The second step was met by current intern Mary Beth Montgomery, who cheerfully offered to give me a tour of what really is a big house.
Like a well-oiled machine, the house is organized to the nines with special touches that are intentional in welcoming all foster families.
They do this through their biggest program called the “Clothes Closet,” where clothes fitting all ages are stocked and stored.
Downstairs, baby carriers and bottles galore fill a room dedicated to infants and new child care. Another room houses teenage girls’ clothing where all sizes, styles, fits and fashions can be found.
Outside these rooms on top of a counter lies a stack of beach towels bursting in color. Each year, BigHouse collects towels for children who have come into the foster care within the last year in the state of Alabama. The goal is for each child to go home with a new swimsuit paired with a personalized beach towel with their name embroidered on it.
“That’s just a really cool thing because if they’re coming in to care, they don’t have a lot of personal items a lot of times, and nothing as special as having their name on it. This is something that can really seem like its theirs and there’s more to just being in foster care,” said Montgomery.
Upstairs, the tour continues where colors of the rainbow housing little boy and girl clothing lead to a door where “Happy Birthday” written on a cupcake sign hangs like a wreath on a door. Inside, toys of all sorts are arranged waiting to make a foster child feel special on his or her day.
Once back downstairs, I noticed a room full of formal dresses. The dresses, which are being gathered for an upcoming event BigHouse puts on called “Glitz, Glam, and Gowns” unites Huntsville, Birmingham and Dothan as a special night for foster children girls to embrace their inner shine.
“It’s more of an event to feel special and feel cared about... we want them to be empowered and be confident in who they are,” said Montgomery.
Montgomery, who has worked alongside BigHouse for three years now, said of the organization,
“BigHouse has really just shown me the heart that I have for foster care. It shows me the hard work that foster parents are putting into their kids every single day. It’s not an easy job, and they do it with such grace, and humility and patience. So it really has just opened my eyes to a whole other world I would not have known without BigHouse.”